Jury Selected, Trial Begins For Suspect In Indy House Explosion

Jan 21, 2016

The Allen County Courthouse is located in downtown Fort Wayne.
Credit Lisa Ryan, WBOI News

Oral arguments began Thursday in Fort Wayne for the trial of a man accused of arson and murder in a 2012 Indianapolis house explosion that killed two neighbors and damaged more than 80 homes. The trial was moved to Fort Wayne because of media attention.

The explosion made state and national news, and even has its own Wikipedia page. In order to try to find an impartial jury, 800 people in Allen County were sent jury duty notices.

Prosecutors allege Bob Leonard, now on trial in Fort Wayne, intentionally blew up the house to claim $300,000 in insurance money.

John McGauley is the Allen County Superior Court Executive. He says Marion County Courts decided to move the trial to Fort Wayne due to the widespread publicity of the case and because Allen County has handled cases of similar size.

“Our ideal juror is someone who knew very little about this and had not formed any opinions about it and thus could serve with an open mind and make sure Mr. Leonard got a fair trial.”

McGauley says the number of people summoned is “easily” 10 times the normal number for a murder trial.

He says county court employees have processed thousands of questionnaires for potential jurors and have worked hard to ensure the building has proper security.

They found 12 jurors, plus 6 alternates, after bringing in 78 people, which means hundreds of people in Allen County summoned for jury duty are no longer needed. McGauley says people can verify their summons by calling the courts.

To find out more information about how to see whether or not you have jury duty, call 260-449-3461. Summons that say “BL” in the sub-panel number indicate a juror does not have to report, but everyone summoned should still verify by calling, says McGauley.